Former Mossad Chief: Russia and Turkey should support the possibility of reaching a peace agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh - EXCLUSİVE
11 September 2021
F ormer Mossad Chief Danny Yatom interviewed by Editor-in-Chief of Baku Tribune Seymur Mammadov.
- The US is concerned about the scale of Chinese investment in Israel's basic infrastructure. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his staff recently returned from the USA with the understanding that the Biden administration expects Israel to act on investments from China. What do you think Israel will do and what measures can the prime minister of Israel take?
- We have many allies among the countries of the world. The most important one is the USA. We have special relations. Israel and the USA. And we will do utmost in order to continue to hold such relations, even to improve it. When the USA comes to Israel and asks for putting limitations on the relations between Israel and China we don't accept it automatically. We enter into discussions with the USA. What is going on today is the main involvement of Chinese companies are in the infrastructure in Israel. Digging tunnels, tunnels for railways and trains, building stations, laying railways in many parts of Israel, in Haifa in Tel-Aviv. They were building the metro. Now the Chinese company is playing an important role in building the metro. They are also going to manage it once it will be open to the public. In addition to it, they will build two ports in Israel, civilian ports in Israel. One in Haifa, second - in Ashdod. This is a pure civilian project. In addition to it, the Chinese see Israeli technology with high achievements. They would like to purchase high technologies and are going to fund over 1 billion dollars. And we will decide if they will be able to invest in the X project or the Y project etc. China and Chinese are our friends. They are not our enemies. But China has very good relations with Israel's enemies like Iran, like Hezbollah, like HAMAS, like many other terror organizations so we have to be sure that the technologies that we transfer to China will be so that if it somehow leaks to Iran or some other adversary of Israel won't cause a dramatic threat. In addition to it, the US asks us to minimize our contacts with China but let me give you some numbers. The trade between the US and China. China imports from the US goods cost $154 billion. China exports to the US goods that cost $418 billion. What about Israel we export to China goods of the value of $3 million, we import from China at a value of 10 billion dollars. You can't even compare the values.
-Israel and China have a strong bilateral relationship, mainly in the business area, with China showing a particular interest in Israeli technological developments. The US is trying to shield Israel from Chinese influence. Back in January 2021, former Ambassador David Friedman warned that Israel still has work to do to ensure its security when it comes to China's involvement in technology and infrastructure projects. Could China really pose a threat to Israel's national security?
- Israel and the US are very good allies and very good friends. Even though the US is big, Israel is small, though the US is a superpower, have got very open and transparent relations. Whenever Americans or the American administration has complains or has something to say to the Israeli administration, we find how to do it behind closed doors. So when the US comes to us with the requests to stop selling some items to China we start discussions and yes there in past were big projects that Israel built for the Chinese based on American technology. This is the "Falcon", for air control. Collecting intelligence.
And at the end president, Clinton could not propose the tension that was imposed on him by his own people and we had to cancel it. There were big discussions, big disputes between us and China. And we even had to compensate China and to pay to China a few hundred million dollars. So this is a unique situation. It has not come to a crisis. There is a good relationship and transparency between China and Iran. And we have concern that something that we sell to the Chinese will leak to Iranians.
- Israeli and Turkish drones played an important role during the Second Karabakh War. Although the war is over, Russia recently announced the start of a new process of supplying arms to Armenia. According to some media reports, Russia has supplied its own Orion drones to Armenia. The Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom recently reported that Azerbaijan is negotiating the purchase of Israeli weapons worth $ 2 billion. Tensions in our region are on the rise again. And here the point is not only that Russia continues to arm Armenia, but that Armenian armed formations are daily shelling Azerbaijani positions from their new positions, which were created on the territory where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed. Armenian provocations against Azerbaijan are taking place in front of the Russian peacekeepers. And no measures are being taken against Armenia. In your opinion, what should Azerbaijan do in this case? How should Baku react to this?
- Well, it is no secret that the main power in the area is Russia. And Russia tried during the previous years to return to all the states of the former Soviet Union to have better and more influence on them. This is now the concept and policy of the Russians that Russia will have a very big influence over all those countries that were the part and the members of the Soviet Union. And probably this is one of the reasons why Russia assists Armenia. And to Azerbaijan of course they sell arms due to the conflict concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh area. I'm not in a position to give advice neither to Azerbaijanis nor Armenians. You, Azerbaijan and Armenia have to solve the problem and crisis between yourselves along with the lasting crisis with the support may be of Russia, Turkey, which is also involved in the crisis around Nagorno-Karabakh. Just recently we read in newspapers that Russia improved its relations with Azerbaijan in addition to the good relations that Russia has with Armenia. And the same with Turkey. Turkey now improves relations with Azerbaijan. So I think that these two powers, mainly Russia and also Turkey have to support the possibilities to come not only to a ceasefire but to a peace agreement, concerning the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. As I said I'm not in a position to give any ideas or advice to President Aliyev.
- Recently, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said: "Russia has begun the process of supplying arms to Armenia." In an interview with CNN Turk, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan expects that Russia will not arm Armenia. The President said that this issue was brought to the attention of the Russian side. And the press secretary of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova said that Moscow's goal is "to create a military balance in the region." What do you think is the real goal of Moscow?
- The last eruption of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended with the victory of Azerbaijan. So I think that Russia wants to control the situation. And the way to control the situation is to help the sides negotiating in order to achieve something which is much more solid than just a ceasefire. And all the plays (or declares) against the Russian peacekeepers should go to Russia I think. You, the Azerbaijani side held open communications with Russia. So I don't see that there is a possibility to solve the problem which is a very old one. But there have been trials to come to a sort of understanding, on both sides. And here Russia can help a lot. Today Russia sells arms to Armenia. Russia, I assume, will be very joyful and happy to sell arms also to Azerbaijan. But Azerbaijanis would like to buy systems from other countries, like Israel. And they prefer Israeli weapon systems over Russian ones. But the situation might change. Because the investment of Russia in Armenia is one. The Russian companies will make money. This is why usually they sell weapon systems all over the world. Secondary to put pressure on Azerbaijan. Because Russia supports Armenia. And maybe it will make the position of Azerbaijan easy on the next page of negotiations. There will be more moderate for instance. And thirdly it might tempt Azerbaijan to buy also the same weapons systems from Russia if they will conclude that the Russian ones are better than the others that they purchase from the other countries.
- After the end of the Second Karabakh War, Azerbaijan fully restored the border with Iran and immediately faced a serious challenge - drug smuggling on the border with Iran. The State Border Service of Azerbaijan constantly reports on armed incidents on the border with Iran. There are killed and wounded from the Azerbaijani side. Do you think the Israeli experience could be useful in the field of border security?
- No doubt, the answer is "yes". Due to special circumstances, we won since the creation of the state of Israel. Since the war for Independence in 1948, against all odds, we won. We succeeded in the war. And since then we are fighting in order to cement our capabilities, in order to cement our independence. One of the problems that we were facing and we are still facing is cross border terrorists, squads of terrorists that used to infiltrate into the Israeli area from the Gaza side, from the Sinai, from Jordan, from the Golan Heights and Lebanon, Arab countries, Muslim countries which are neighboring with the state of Israel. We're surrounded by the countries that all of them used to be hostiles. Today we have peace with Egypt and Jordan. And we cooperate with Jordan and Egypt in order to defend our mutual borders. But it is a problematic issue how to defend our borders. We developed the concept, we developed the technology, the combination of manpower and technology that gives us the best solution. We built the defence. We created smart obstacles.
We have not experienced such kind of disagreement with any US leader earlier. Unfortunately, the US does not fight against terror organizations, supports more than the expected, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while answering questions of journalists after Juma prayer, Baku Tribune in Turkey reports.
First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva has viewed conditions created at newly built school No. 88 in the building in Binagadi settlement of Khazar district, Baku Tribune reports.
On September 22, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov has met with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto within the framework of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, the Press Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan told Baku Tribune.
Our martyrs will be commemorated in the religious temples operating in Azerbaijan- mosques, churches, synagogues with great mercy in the Commemoration Ceremony, the Organization Committee told Baku Tribune.